It is understood that 2 Sisters is looking to offload the Christmas pudding manufacturer and has appointed corporate finance firm Spayne Lindsay to oversee the deal. Industry sources have estimated the deal to be worth between £30m–£80m.
An industry insider told Food Manufacture: “2 Sisters do need to continue selling businesses to reduce their debt and to get back to a core chicken and convenience food business – everything else is peripheral. I would guess that any of the major bakery players would have an interest.”
Sting of disposals
2 Sisters declined to comment on the rumoured sale.
Plans to sell Matthew Walker follow a string of disposals by the poultry processor – including Goodfella’s pizzas at the beginning of last year and its red meat division in July – which most likely won’t be the last.
“I am sure 2 Sisters will sell Fox’s Biscuits as and when they can get the right price,” said the insider. “Strategically, that has to be the right way forward and for 2 Sisters to focus on what they are good at.”
Fox’s Biscuits has been the centre of a major investment plan to promote growth and commercial properties for the business, including its manufacturing capabilities. This led to the announcement of 250 jobs being cut from its loss-making Uttoxeter site, described as a major blow to the community by workers’ union Unite.
Meanwhile, up to 500 jobs are at risk at loss-stricken crisp maker Kettle Foods, after reports of owner Campbell wishing to sell the business.
It is understood that Barclays has been hired to advise the sale of Kettle, two years after it was acquired as part of the purchase of Snyder’s-Lance and its portfolio of brands. Snyder’s-Lance bought Kettle as part of Diamond Foods for $1.2bn (£916m) in March 2016.